25 January 2020Galatians 1:11-24
... for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (v. 12)
Psalm: Psalm 67
Today we remember the conversion of Paul, and in today's reading Paul begins with a personal testimony, which continues through chapter two. We know there is a power in testimony when we can articulate an experience of meeting with God that transforms us and leads us onwards in a new life. And we know that this feature of earlier Methodism has been somewhat lost in recent generations. As we read Paul’s testimony, God willing, this challenges us as to how we talk of God in ways that make sense today.
The details of Paul’s life before meeting with Jesus are laid out (vs. 13-24). He has been focussed on serving God as he has understood this. But everything changes when he experiences Jesus. There is a before and an after. We believe the coming of Jesus is the pivotal point in world history, as the BC and AD designation reminded us in a previous era. Jesus is also pivotal in our lives. When we experience God’s grace, love and forgiveness, everything changes. We are new people and life is never the same again. This is what Paul is expressing.
Paul reminds us that our faith is "by revelation from Jesus Christ" (v. 12). It does not come from within us, but beyond us. Often we focus on Scripture as revelation, and so God has revealed truth to us which we now read. That can result in our understanding of revelation being all a bit static and cerebral. But here Paul is talking of Jesus Christ as revelation. The incarnation of Jesus is revelation, the life and ministry of Jesus is revelation, as is the journey to the cross, death, resurrection and ascension. The written revelation in Scripture is in part how we understand God, but revelation is focused in Jesus.
- When did you last talk about what your faith means to you within the life of our Church? And when have you talked of your faith with those who aren’t part of a Christian Church?
- Are we keen to really listen to the stories of people who are not Christians, or have rejected the faith they once held?
- What does ‘revelation’ mean to you? Do we simply receive the truth from God, or do we participate in its reception?